pregnant smoking pot
Credit: Getty Images/Samantha Carrirolo

It’s safe to say that being pregnant isn’t always a walk in the park. A lot can happen to your body in the nine months leading up to having a baby, and some things are more uncomfortable than others. Morning sickness is often considered one of the worst pregnancy side effects, and moms-to-be are willing to do just about anything to curb the nausea and keep down their meals. In fact, alarming new research reveals that more and more pregnant women are smoking pot to help with morning sickness.

Doctors do not suggest marijuana use during pregnancy, but this hasn’t seemed to stop many women from turning to it when feeling desperate for relief. Researchers looked at a California health care system database of about 318,000 pregnant females, and found that, from 2009 to 2016, marijuana use among pregnant women increased from 4.2% to 7.1%. Women ages 18-years-old and younger increased use from 12.5% to 21.8%, and women ages 18 to 24-years-old increased from 9.8% to 19%.

This large increase is probably more alarming than you might think — researchers say that because the results are from self-reported surveys, the findings “likely underestimate use.”

This isn’t the first time this subject has come up. In January 2017, a study published in JAMA had similar results: they found that marijuana use among pregnant women went from 2.3% in 2002 to 3.85% in 2014. The same study found that younger women between the ages of 18 and 25-years-old were again the most likely to use marijuana.

Researchers believe women are smoking pot while pregnant in an effort to ease morning sickness and anxiety. Marijuana is known for making users feel relaxed and stress-free. It’s also a drug that is commonly used to treat nausea in sick patients, like people suffering from cancer.

And why are so many younger people obviously more comfortable with the idea of smoking pot while pregnant? Researchers believe this could be because the younger age groups have grown up watching weed become legalized, for recreational and medicinal uses, so they think it isn’t as big of a deal as doctors say it is.

While it seems to make sense to reach for weed when seeking relief from stomach pains and anxiety, doctors advise against pregnant women doing so. There isn’t a lot of research out there on what marijuana can do to an unborn child, but what does exist has prompted doctors to urge pregnant women against using it. Research from the CDC says that smoking pot while pregnant can lead to low birth weights and can increase the baby’s risk of developmental problems. THC from marijuana can be passed through the mother into the baby. So if you’re looking for morning sickness relief, it’s probably best to turn to something else.